Energy Hardship Fund

Last year, HACT distributed £1 million in energy vouchers to over 16,000 resident households across the UK, using a network of over 160 housing associations.

This year, the need for energy vouchers is even higher.

How you can get involved

Donate

Make a financial contribution from your organisation

Support

Send us your logo and add you name to our list of supporters

Distribute

Add your details to our network so you can distribute funds

Promote

Ask your contractors and suppliers to contribute to the Fund.

The Energy Hardship Fund is supported by:

FAQs

There are multiple definitions of fuel poverty, however they all represent the condition in which the cost of energy is an undue burden on households.

“Fuel poverty is the condition by which a household is unable to afford to heat their home to an adequate temperature”,   End Fuel Poverty Coalition. 

Fuel poverty is a major problem every year. For low-income households already balancing bills, the onset of colder weather and increased need for heating can lead to difficult choices, sacrifices and debt. Community Action on Fuel Poverty estimates that 4.5 million households are in fuel poverty across the UK.

This year fuel poverty is set to be an even greater issue. Mounting fuel prices will hit low-income households the hardest. Indeed, recent estimates suggest an extra million households may fall into fuel poverty over the next year.

Increased energy bills can push more households into debt, which not only is a financial burden, it also impacts health and wellbeing. The UK Social Value Bank puts a measure on this impact; being debt free equates to £1,592 per year, whilst relief from being heavily burdened with debt is valued at £10,836 per year.

The inability to affordably heat a home also puts lives at risk. ONS statistics for just England and Wales put the excess deaths due to cold homes in the winter of 2019-2020 at 8,500. Long term, urgent action is needed to improve the energy efficiency of homes, but in the short term support with bills can be a lifeline during the colder months.

Fuel poverty is also a product of the poverty premium, by which those on low incomes effectively pay a higher price for goods and services. Using a pre-payment meter is estimated to cost an extra £38 per year, and not being able to switch to the best fuel tariff comes to an extra £233. With rapid rises in energy costs, this premium will hit low-income households the hardest.

As a sector we can make difference by supporting residents. Government statistics suggest that 15% of households in fuel poverty are social housing tenancies, therefore supporting social housing residents is an effective way of reaching those in need. Social housing organisations are already engaged in the lives of residents and communities, making it easier to identify and support those in fuel poverty.

We are working with Charis, a grant management platform which can be used to distribute hardship vouchers to residents across the UK. Over the winter of 2020-21 HACT administered the distribution of over £1m of vouchers through the Charis platform to over 16,000 resident households across the UK.

Funds raised over the coming months will be transferred to the Charis platform in December and January, which can then be accessed by social housing organisations on behalf of residents.

UK based social housing organisations will be able to access vouchers on behalf of their residents via the Charis platform. Vouchers will both cover residents on prepayment meters and those who pay for energy in other ways including direct debit.

Eligibility requirements will ensure that vouchers are prioritised for those in the most immediate need over the winter period.

Our sector has a common purpose, supporting social housing residents in their homes and communities.

Some organisations already provide hardship grants to cover fuel costs every year. We want to help more residents access this support, by creating a larger UK wide fund. To do this, we are calling for both social housing providers, and friends of the sector to contribute to a shared pot.

Together we can raise more money collectively, using a tried and tested delivery method to get energy support to those who need it. It’s a chance to make a clear, collective statement as a sector that fuel poverty is a problem that has to be addressed.

The fund is reliant on donations from social housing organisations, supply chain and procurement organisations, as well as charitable trusts and foundations.

If you wish to donate please:

  • Email energy.hardship@hact.org.uk with your name, role, organisations details and pledge amount
  • We will then reply to you directly, send you a donation pack and details of how to send funds
  • If you wish to be added to our network to be able to distribute funds please let us know

The funds are available from 16th December 2021. Expressions of Interest are still open, for more details you can email energy.hardship@hact.org.uk

We’ve introduced a drop down to the portal once you have logged in for you to select the fund you’d like to access.

This will be different depending on the type of voucher you are looking for and where you are in the UK. This is because our different funds and funders have different offers and reporting requirements.

Please select the following ‘organisation’ according to your customers’ energy needs and location:

  • HACT Energy Redress – Our largest ‘pot’, made up of funding from the Energy Savings Trust. Available to households in England, Scotland and Wales (unfortunately the funder does not cover N. Ireland). This fund is exclusively for £28 and £49 fuel vouchers redeemable at PayPoint and Post Office locations. If your customers pay for their gas and electricity through pre-paid meters please ensure you use this fund.

As with last year please note that PayPoint vouchers cannot be used by British Gas customers, and Post Office vouchers cannot be used by Utilita customers. So please remember to ask your customers who their energy providers are before allocating energy vouchers.

  • HACT Winter Hardship Fund – Our new fund for Winter 2021/22 made up of donations from HAs, suppliers and partners. Available to households across England, Scotland, Wales AND Northern Ireland. This fund is exclusively for £28 and £49 cash vouchers redeemable at PayPoint locations only.  If you customers pay for their gas and electricity through any means other that pre-paid meter you can use this fund to provide cash vouchers to offset the costs of their energy debts. As noted in the project guidance we ask that wherever possible you seek and retain proof these vouchers have been used to offset fuel costs.

Finally, a reminder that as a condition of funding each household can only receive a maximum of 3 vouchers this winter. This runs across the 2 or 3 funds, so for example if a resident needs two fuel vouchers to offset their gas charges for the Energy Redress account, and a cash voucher to pay for electricity from the winter hardship fund – this will be the total of their eligibility for this winter.

Data protection and downloading vouchers

As expected, we have to be careful about the information we ask for and use in our systems to administer the fund.

Those of you familiar with the Charis system may note that it is possible to send vouchers directly to residents via text or email. Please do not do this. The Let’s Talk Shop retains recipient details, which is a helpful feature to reduce admin if you are a single organisation administering a fund, but less so when we have multiple organisations sharing an account.

Therefore, we ask that when you purchase a voucher you send it to your own work email and then forward on to residents from your email accounts. Please under no circumstances input resident details on to the Charis platform. Helpfully Charis include a ‘populate with my information’ tick box which speeds up this process for you!:

Also, a polite reminder to not download vouchers in bulk as they have a limited validity period. To ensure no vouchers lapse we recommend you only download vouchers when a need has been identified and pass them on to residents as soon as possible to be redeemed.

 

As this is once again the process for downloading and administering vouchers we do once again have to ask you and your colleagues to support us in logging each voucher you receive in the attached reporting spreadsheet.  To avoid duplication please create a central copy for your organisation and all complete the same sheet. Some of the information we ask for is essential for reporting and quality assurance purposes, other fields are optional additional insights that will feed into work to influence energy policy and practice that we are hoping to undertake this winter.

Essential:

  • Your organisation
  • Receipt Number
  • Voucher Code
  • Date purchased and issued
  • voucher type and amount
  • Recipient house number and postcode.

Additional insights: Age range of recipient, household size, household income range.

The date for your first return of reports is close of business Friday 7th January.